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What makes a person develop a loyalty and passion so intense, so unexpected, that it can turn their lives upside down? 

Seltzertopia is the story of the modern pioneers of seltzer, loyal to and passionate about the crisply carbonated, who wrangle centuries-old machines to fill siphons with sparkling water, keeping alive a craft that is centuries old. 

Using their stories to consider the social, cultural, and economic impacts of seltzer, Seltzertopia tackles the question: What is it about this simplest of concoctions that has allowed it to make a difference to so many people, in such different ways?

Based on more than fourteen years of original research and interviews, the extraordinary story of this ordinary drink can finally be told. 

In Part One, "The World According to Seltzer," readers will learn the untold history of seltzer and about the people across America who have found themselves building a path to Seltzertopia. They will discover where seltzer comes from, the science of

seltzer, and how people can become SO passionate about something SO ordinary. More specifically, readers will meet John Seekings, a public relations executive in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and join him on his unexpected journey into the modern world of old-fashioned seltzer bottling.

In Part Two, "Give Me Seltzer (and the People Who Crave It),” readers will learn how, during the blizzard of 2010, John Seekings saw for the first time how much seltzer meant to his new customers. They will discover how that meaning can change over time and place, and how it is most often associated with one of four categories: health, refreshment, identity, and comedy. And it will begin with a visit not too far into the past, to a time when seltzer found itself pitted in a battle against another popular drink: Coca-Cola.

In Part Three, “Seltzertopia,” readers will enter the effervescent age. Widely available in plastic bottles, in supermarkets and corner stores, in a wide range of flavors, readers will discover seltzer’s global appeal, then revisit John Seekings, now a seltzer master in an emerging generation of new seltzer professionals.

Get your own copy of Seltzertopia and feel the fizz!

In the Media:

Sparkling water actually started out as a health beverage, says Barry Joseph, who will release his book Seltzertopia later this year after more than 14 years of research. Read More in Boston Magazine"

"It may look like no more than water with some bubbles, but seltzer has become a national obsession. It provides some of soda pop’s kick, but it has no sugar, no calories. Originally, it flowed from some European springs, and English chemist Joseph Priestley lauded its potential benefits. The European beverage translated to the New World as Jewish immigrants carried with them a taste for seltzer. The invention of the siphon (recognizable from a host of American movies as a comic squirting prop) made seltzer available universally. Then soda fountains became fixtures in drug stores, where soda jerks concocted fizzy egg creams and ice cream sodas in a rainbow of flavors. The twentieth century found Americans returning from vacations abroad newly intrigued with bubbly bottled water. After reading Joseph’s anecdotally detailed account, parched drinkers will have a hard time picking up a bottle of sparkling water and not being in awe of this simple beverage’s complicated history."
— Booklist